Lillie Boggs eighth at sectional swim meet in coach Gerson’s farewell

The Aspen Swim Club took four athletes to the 2019 Four Corners Spring Speedo Sectionals this past weekend, hosted by Phoenix Swim Club in Arizona.

Much like it’s been all year, it was Lillie Boggs who stole the show for Aspen. The 13-year-old, competing against swimmers much later into their teens, took eighth in the open 1,650 free (or the mile) with a time of 17 minutes, 12.7 seconds, a near 10-second improvement over her previous best time.

Her time had already been among the best ever for 13-year-old girls from Colorado, a list that includes five-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin.

“Really outstanding that a 13-year-old can get an eighth-place finish at the meet,” outgoing Aspen coach Gordon Gerson said. “That time is the 12th fastest in the country for a 13-year-old this year. Pretty fun. It was a real nice swim to end it on. Lillie had a great meet.”

The meet, which itself is difficult to qualify for, can include everyone from up-and-comers like Boggs to national champions and even Olympians.

On top of her strong performance in the mile, Boggs scored points (top 24) in the 1,000 free (16th), 400 IM (20th), 200 breast (22nd) and 500 free (23rd). Davy Brown, a senior at Aspen High School who will swim for Colorado Mesa, finished 16th in both the 200 back and the 200 IM. The two girls combined to finish 24th as a team on the women’s side.

“All in all, they swam really awesome,” Gerson said. “Davy got back in shape. She had some really good swims and she had a few best times. It’s been a little while since she’s been able to do that.”

The lone points for the Aspen boys came from 16-year-old Shea Card. He finished 24th in the 400 IM, while 18-year-old Cole Petersen was 25th in the mile, a single spot outside of scoring points. He wasn’t far off in the 1,000 free, either, taking 28th.

Both Petersen, a senior at Aspen High School, and Card, a sophomore at Basalt High School, compete for the Glenwood Springs High School boys swim team in the spring.

“Shea had some real outstanding swims. Got to have a second swim at sectionals for the first time in his career,” Gerson said. “Cole had a tough spring with a lot of other commitments and health stuff. So the fact that he was right on his times — I think he made a best time — was awesome.”

The meet concluded the short-course season for the Speedos. It also concluded the tenure of Gerson, who had been Aspen’s coach the past nine years and had led parts of the club for near 15. A cardiologist in the valley, Gerson announced prior to the winter season he would be stepping down.

“I’ve given it my all and I need a little break,” Gerson said, mentioning a desire to spend more time with his family, and maybe a little more time on the ski hill and the golf course, as well. “I would love to see how things continue to go for the kids and I hope they all keep getting a lot better. But it’s just time to take a break.”

The returning swimmers will get back to practice next week, with the start of their summer competitions getting underway in May.

Taking over the program is recent Glenwood Springs-transplant Tom Jager, who happens to be one of the most decorated Olympic swimmers in U.S. history. Prior to moving to Glenwood, Jager had been the head coach for the Washington State University women’s swim team, a position he had held since the 2011-12 season.